Hampton seeks input on town hall

 The town of Hampton is seeking the input of local residents regarding the town hall.

Officials are trying to determine what direction to take in concerns to the town hall and will give residents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the subject during a special meeting to be held next month.

“We need to collect information, determine our goals-what we need and why need it-and develop a plan,” Supervisor Dave O’Brien said.

The offices, which are also home to the Hampton Town Court and are located adjacent the highway garage on State Route 22A, have fallen into a state of disrepair over the years and the town has steadily outgrown the facility.

O’Brien admitted during last week’s meeting that the current building “has a lot of issues.”

It’s not easily handicap accessible, does not contain separate offices for town officials, and lacks adequate space to store records, most of which sit on a set of shelves on the buildings’ southern wall. An audit of the town court also raised concerns about the buildings security.

In an unofficial survey of residents by the planning board, residents also said the building was “hot in the summer, cold in the winter,” lacked space for community groups and events, and needed more space for the storage of town history.

The town essentially has three options: stay put, repair and renovate the current building, build a new facility, or find a local civic organization-which there are few of in Hampton-willing to share its space.

O’Brien said officials need to outline what they want in a town hall and determine whether they can be accomplished at the current site or somewhere else. 

He said Jim Sheldon is expected to look at the foundation and determine an estimate for repairs and officials may explore the costs of adding on to the current facility or building a new one altogether.

Councilman Dave Perry asked members of the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department if they would be interested in sharing some of their building and turning it into a multi-use facility.

“From my point of view it seems dumb to have two furnaces and two septic (systems),” Perry said, implying that the town and the fire company could save money if they shared resources.

However, Fire Chief Joe Mead said space was limited.

“There really isn’t enough room. I wouldn’t want to lose any space,” he replied.

Mead said members may be more receptive to the idea in 2014 after a lease with the Post Office expires, possibly freeing up more space.

O’Brien said he would like to figure out construction costs (whether on the current building or elsewhere) before deciding whether to wait.

“We can’t let it go. We need to a look at things. We need to be proactive,” he said.

A meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the town hall and all Hampton residents are encouraged to attend. 

In other matters, the board approved contracts with the Hampton Fire Department and the Fair Haven Volunteer Fire Department to provide fire protection in the town.

Hampton will cover fire district one and Fair Haven will provide coverage in fire district two.

Officials are also expected to explore costs of a new time clock in the town garage and O’Brien and Budget Officer Kim Perry were going to meet with officials at TD Bank to discuss fees the bank has said they are going to begin charging to municipal accounts and then decide whether to stay with the bank or go elsewhere.

The town also continues to search for a dog control officer and anyone interested in the position is encouraged to call the town offices.

 

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